Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles announced earlier this week that for the third consecutive season Mike Vick will be the starting quarterback in Week One. Believers of open competition feel that Vick won the job over second year man Nick Foles with his strong play and practice since the summer started, and they may be right. Vick has been nearly perfect in the preseason, clearly and definitely outplaying the younger and less experienced Foles.
That being said, the anointing of Vick shouldn't come as too big of a shocker for anyone who has studied The Chippah for more than, well, six minutes. The man loves options. He lines tight ends up at wide receiver. He signs linebackers that can rush and drop into coverage. His entire offensive game plan seems to be based on giving his play makers as many cards to draw from as possible.
And just like his play calling, having Vick under center gives Kelly and the Eagles the most options. That's not a commentary on the skill-set of Vick vs. Foles, but rather a statement on the current state of the Iggles.
Kelly said on Tuesday that Vick won't have to look over his shoulder and that this isn't a one-game try out. And while that statement may be sincere, it doesn't really matter. The likelihood of Vick staying healthy for 17 consecutive Sundays seems as likely as a visitor to Lincoln Financial Field wearing a Tony Romo jersey telling all his friends the home fans in his section "treated me real swell!" It would be nice if it happened, and sure it's feasible... but don't bet the farm.
Maybe Foles gets in due to injury. Maybe he gets in because Vick continues to struggle with ball security. Or maybe he gets in because it's the start of December and they've only won three ball games. Whatever the reason, Foles will almost certainly start for Chip and the Birds at some point this year.
That's okay. Fine, even. Once Foles goes in, if he plays well, the job remains his. "Rebuilding" is such an ugly word for a fanbase, but that's exactly what this franchise is in the midst of. During a rebuild, the swapping of a veteran quarterback with an unproven youngster is basically required.
Removing that youngster for the rusted vet, however, is not. In Driving School they call that "going in reverse." If Kelly had opted to start Foles against Washington in Week One, he might as well have cut Vick Tuesday afternoon. Starting No.7 at any point after that would make as much sense as naming Andy Reid his offensive line coach (that's a Juan Castillo Easter Egg, for all the truly dedicated). Vick-to-Foles is testing all the parts. Foles-to-Vick is going backwards.
By starting Vick now, Kelly is giving himself the option to go to Foles, or even Matt Barkley, at a later date. If the circumstances are right, maybe both.
Start Vick now, play Foles later.
Chip Kelly loves having options.
Not-So-Bold-Prediction: Vick starts nine games, Foles starts five, Barkley starts two, and a guy who plays on Saturdays this season opens it all up in 2014.